17 Jobs for Political Science Majors (That Don’t Require You to Run for Office) was originally published on Forage.
Not everyone who studies political science goes into politics (although many do!). Jobs for political science majors range from, yes, government positions, law, and research, to marketing, sales, and even project management.
Jobs for Political Science Majors Explained
“Of course, many political science graduates work as political staffers, work on campaigns, and some run for office after graduation,” says Donna Patterson, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy at Delaware State University. “A significant number of our graduates also go directly to law school and subsequently use their JDs to work as lawyers, in politics, and at corporations.”
Yet Patterson also recognizes that many students go beyond politics, using their transferable skills like critical thinking and analysis in other industries.
“Many of our majors graduate with advanced public speaking skills gained through group work, classroom projects, internships, and university leadership positions. These skills are great for political science majors as well as other majors. In fact, in addition to law and politics, our majors have worked at NGOs, museums, and in other capacities.”
A communications associate helps with a company or organization’s communication efforts, from email newsletters and social media posts to press releases and promotional materials. They aim to ensure the right information is shared with the right audience using the right communication channel. Communications associates can work in the corporate or nonprofit sectors, finance or health care, education or government — the options are endless.
A communications associate position is among the top jobs for political science majors because it requires excellent written and verbal communication skills, especially writing skills. If you’re specifically interested in working in something related to politics, you can become a communications associate for a government office, political consulting firm, policy institute, or advocacy group.
A consultant is someone who advises organizations on how to be more efficient. First, they examine the company’s structure, goals, progress, and performance; then, they suggest how to improve.
Consultants can work in a variety of industries — including politics! — depending on the type of organizations they consult for and what kind of solutions they provide. There are also different types of consultants. For example, an operations consultant focuses on the company’s organization, processes, and structure, while a strategy consultant focuses on general high-level business decisions.
Learn how to use critical thinking and brainstorming skills like a BCG consultant to help a hypothetical luxury clothing company increase its revenue.
Skills you’ll build:
Creativity, critical thinking, brainstorming
If you’re interested in the financial side of politics — the cost of health care or employment trends — becoming an economist is a great way to apply your analytical skills in an engaging career path. Economists conduct financial research to explain economic patterns and trends. They try to understand how societies use resources like money, labor, and natural materials, how consumers make choices, and how that affects things like prices and employment. In addition to their research, economists will advise businesses, governments, and individuals on economic issues and policies.
Being an economist is a top job for political science majors because you can work for the government and analyze data on things like employment, prices, productivity, and wages. Using this information, you’d then help evaluate economic policies and provide insights to policymakers.
Historians research, study, and analyze historical documents, from newspapers and photographs to letters and interviews. Historians can conduct this research for various employers, including government, business, nonprofit, or historical organizations. Their goal is to build knowledge of history by understanding a specific person, issue, time period, event, or organization. They may present findings in various ways, from museum exhibits and education programs to books and websites.
Human Resources Specialist
Human resources professionals are responsible for the management and overall well-being of a company’s employees. They oversee an employee’s entire lifecycle at a company, from helping recruit and interview candidates to managing things like payroll and engagement and conducting exit interviews.
While not a job related to government politics, human resources specialists are the gatekeepers of employee politics. They need impeccable communication and interpersonal skills to communicate with employees at all levels.
Practice two crucial HR tasks: how to give employees feedback and how to develop a compensation framework.
Skills you’ll build:
Communication, process mapping, data visualization, pay metrics
Journalists write articles to share information with people. Some journalists might write about what’s going on in politics, covering key races and new laws; others might cover local news of a specific community or focus on a niche like health and wellness or theater. Journalists aim to share factual, accurate accounts of what’s happening worldwide, often calling on experts or people familiar with the topic to share insights.
Political science majors can make great journalists because of their research, communication, and writing skills. If you’ve written for a school newspaper, done independent research, or written about the news for a class, gathering these samples into an online portfolio can be a great way to stand out in your journalism applications.
Lawyers advise people, companies, and organizations on legal issues. A lawyer’s job is to be there for their client at every step, whether researching their case to provide context on the law or representing them in a criminal or civil proceeding. Lawyers can work across industries and for various clients, including state governments, corporations, or individuals.
Becoming a lawyer is common for political science majors as the work requires extensive research, writing, and communication skills. To become a lawyer, you’ll need more education and certifications than a political science degree. You’ll need to attend law school, get a law degree, and pass the American Bar Association’s bar exam in the state you’d like to practice law.
Introduction to Law
Work with a legal team on everyday tasks and challenges, including advising a borrower on a lending transaction, drafting a cease-and-desist letter, and training your peers.
Skills you’ll build:
Legal research, attention to detail, efficiency, communication, presentation
A legislative assistant supports a lawmaker, like a senator, with tasks in the legislative process. These tasks include researching proposed legislation, organizing meetings, drafting documents, briefing the lawmaker, and communicating with constituents. A legislative assistant’s goal is to help the lawmaker they work for make informed decisions on legislation that reflects their values and the people they serve.
Political science majors who become legislative assistants may find they’re using research skills similar to those they learned in school and getting to apply them directly to the law-making process.
Market Research Analyst
A market research analyst helps companies make decisions using marketing and sales data. The analyst examines this data to understand consumer behavior and help inform the company’s marketing strategy. A market research analyst might give insights into what kinds of products people are buying, the specific audience that’s buying certain products, and how much they’re buying them for. These insights can help the company understand who to market to and how to price their products.
While not directly related to politics, this role is one of the top jobs for political science majors because it requires skills like analysis, research, communication, and critical thinking.
Develop an integrated marketing strategy for a new digital product at lululemon.
Skills you’ll build:
Written communication, project management, product development, strategic thinking
A policy analyst examines government policies to understand their efficacy and how they might be improved. For example, a policy analyst might study an issue like education or health care, then look at data following specific policies to understand how previous policies have (or have yet to make) progress. Then, a policy analyst will provide recommendations to policymakers.
“I may be biased being based in DC, but there’s an abundance of policy work in virtually any field — from health to economics to foreign affairs,” says Shannon Powers, former political science major and chief strategy officer and senior vice president at global. “Bonus — you can do this for the government, a think tank, or even the private sector through consulting.”
Political scientists research political systems, specifically governments and their development and operations. Their goal is to understand the effect of different government systems on the people they serve. Sometimes, political scientists will offer insights on improving a political system.
This job’s focus is similar to what you might study as a political science major, with an added level of research. Often, political scientists need a master’s degree in political science, public administration, or a related field.
Getting work done and achieving goals requires organization, the right processes, and focus. Project managers oversee a project from start to finish, ensuring everyone has the correct information and resources and completes their work on time.
While this job isn’t directly related to the topics you might be studying with a political science degree, you’ll apply the soft skills you learn while getting your degree. Project managers can work in virtually any industry and need excellent communication, time management, and people management skills.
“Many agencies and firms require a strong hand to guide work, keep people on task, and ensure objectives are being met,” Powers says. “Political science undergrads should have the right experience just by completing the many requisites of their degree.”
Use critical project management skills like analysis and presentation to help clients launch a new brand.
Skills you’ll build:
Strategic analysis, presentation, communication, synthesizing
Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists focus on building and maintaining a positive reputation for a company, brand, or individual. These professionals might share information about their clients with the press, manage their social media profiles, schedule media events for their clients, or respond to any media crises.
Public relations is an excellent field for political science majors because it requires interpersonal skills, specifically written and verbal communication, public speaking, and problem-solving skills.
Sales representatives sell products and services from their company to other companies. This job requires persuasive communication skills to pitch to companies and convince them to buy. Sometimes, sales representatives are also involved in a company’s sales strategy, including finding and reaching out to prospects and discussing products and pricing.
While this role isn’t as aligned with politics as other top jobs for political science majors, it calls on key persuasive communication, public speaking, and analysis skills you learn in the major.
Review customer feedback to identify what products might be a good fit for them, then create a sales presentation pitching those products.
Skills you’ll build:
Customer requirement analysis, effective communication, sales motion
Social and Community Services Manager
If you studied political science to make a difference in people’s lives, working as a social and community services manager can help you accomplish that career goal. These professionals oversee programs and organizations that support the public. For example, a social and community services manager might work for a program that helps end substance abuse or provides after-school care. Or, they may work for an organization that helps a specific group of people, such as veterans or people experiencing homelessness.
Get feedback from younger adults in a community on what challenges they’re going through, then plan an event to help address issues they’ve voiced.
Skills you’ll build:
Planning, budgeting, facilitation
Social Media Specialist
Top jobs for political science majors include those that require excellent communication skills — which students can apply in their careers by specializing in social media. Social media specialists create, manage, and schedule content for a brand, company, or person. They might create content for a specific platform, like Instagram or TikTok, or execute a company’s overall strategy on multiple platforms.
If you’re a political science major getting a liberal arts degree, chances are people have asked you if you will become a history teacher. While there are many lesser-known jobs for political science majors, that doesn’t mean becoming a teacher isn’t a good fit.
Teachers educate students by planning and giving lessons, assessing students’ learning, and providing support when needed. Teachers need to be knowledgeable about the subject they’re teaching, empathetic and patient, and leaders in the classroom. Political science majors may be interested in teaching various subjects, including history, government, and politics.
Engaging the Community
Help increase student enrollment in your community by planning a school trip.
Skills you’ll build:
Planning and organizing, problem-solving, leadership, commitment to mission
How to Apply to Jobs for Political Science Majors
When applying to jobs for political science majors, emphasize the skills you learned in the major and how they connect to the specific role you’re applying for.
Show Your Skills
Political science majors learn many skills throughout their degree, including the top soft and hard skills employers look for. According to The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report, over the next five years, employers are looking for candidates who possess these skills:
- Analytical thinking
- Creative thinking
- Resilience, agility, and flexibility
- Motivation and self-awareness
- Curiosity and lifelong learning
- Technological literacy
- Dependability and attention to detail
- Empathy and active listening
- Leadership and social influence
- Quality control
Political science majors often get these skills from their degrees, even if they don’t always notice it! For example, if you conducted historical research for a class, you likely used analytical thinking and technological literacy. If you wrote an essay about political theory, you probably practiced attention to detail and creative thinking. If you pursued any independent projects related to your coursework, you were curious and showed you’re a lifelong learner.
“Studying questions like the shortcomings of different political philosophies or how different governance structures shaped unforeseen outcomes teaches you how to do a close read of a text, analyze evidence, isolate variables, make deductions about causation, and more,” Powers says. “These skills all come into regular play for knowledge workers.”
Connect the Dots
If you choose to apply for a job that isn’t directly related to political science, it’s crucial to learn how to tell your story to emphasize how your skills and experiences connect to the job. Just because it isn’t obvious doesn’t mean you’re not qualified — you just need to prove it!
“Tell a story about yourself — and not just in your interview,” Powers says. “Make sure your resume and cover letter do it, too. Can someone talk to you for just a few minutes or review your materials quickly and be able to understand what you’re all about? How has your experience and knowledge led you here, and where do you hope to go? That’s guaranteed to make you more compelling than just your GPA or summer internship.”
Learn how to tell your story on your resume, from illustrating your impact to choosing what skills to include.
Skills you’ll build:
Transferable skills, professional brand, summary, identifying job titles
Focus on the Numbers
Like any good job application, focus on your impact by quantifying it.
“It’s not just that you were vice president of the club, but that you helped put on seven different events with 84 attendees,” Marc Cenedella, founder of Leet Resumes and Ladders, says. “You weren’t just the head of membership but helped recruit 26 new numbers. You weren’t just responsible for the sticker sale drive, but that you sold $134 worth of stickers.”
Talk to People
Yes, networking is crucial — especially in jobs in the political industry. Yet if you’re still wondering, “What career is right for me?” talking to people in different fields, especially those with the same degree, can help you learn more about various roles.
“Meet people doing interesting work in media, business, government, law, nonprofit, NGO, education, science, the arts, etc,” says Kimberly Rolfe, co-director of the career and community engagement center at Whitman College. “Gather a variety of perspectives on what is taking place in our world and with the issues you’re most interested in so you can open up all of the potential ways that your political science degree can move you into the world to work on important issues.”
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